I want to write the perfect book.
There. I said it.
I'm not so crazy to think that's actually possible—especially on the first go around—but I strive for it nonetheless. Why? Because even when I reach for perfection I fall seriously short. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but hopefully I can clarify.
For a time in my life, seeking perfection made me discouraged. Through my teen years I realized that perfection wasn't really attainable, and that got me thinking, "If I can't be perfect, then why try?"
And more than that, what's perfect to one person is flawed to another. My ideal isn't my best friend's ideal, and so on and so forth.
So I stopped trying to be perfect. Not that I went out and did anything horrible, but I stopped reaching, if that makes sense. If I couldn't be The Best, then I didn't try at all. If it wasn't easy for me, I didn't push myself. I told myself I was fine the way I was.
Which is a strangely slippery slope. Because in many ways that is true—we are all fine the way we are. On the other hand, humans have this uncanny ability to be so much more than they are. Not just fine—but great, amazing, inspiring, etc.
When I stopped reaching for this unattainable perfection, I sold myself short.
I stopped writing. I stopped drawing. I stopped being the person I wanted to be but wasn't yet.
I lost years of progress because I chose to stand still instead.
Of course, at the time I didn't know how much I'd lost, how much I'd given up on myself. It wasn't until I picked up a bookmark at the store that things changed. You might recognize the quote from my sidebar:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
—Henry David Thoreau
That day, I wrote creatively for the first time in five years. I decided to reach for the impossible again, and now almost five years after that I'm happy I did. I may still be far, far from perfection, but I'm somewhere instead of nowhere. And not only am I somewhere, but I'm going places.
I've learned that reaching for perfection isn't necessarily bad. Sure, there are unhealthy examples, but I don't mean going for the crazy extremes. I mean going after your ideals, whatever they may be. I mean seeking to improve daily, picking yourself up when you fail, and moving in the direction of your dreams.
I want to write the perfect book—according to me. I want it to be my best possible effort, the best possible manifestation of the story. I've learned that I have to reach for perfection to get even close to that. If I set my sights any lower, my work sucks and I don't improve.
As much as pushing myself hurts at times, I've learned that I really like the results.